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Baseball: Purnell NE's Premier Pitcher

Senior closer voted New England's No. 1 pitcher for 2013


purnell_jersey_72_1236.jpgWELLESLEY, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior right-handed relief pitcher Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) has been voted Division III Pitcher-of-the-Year by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA), it has been announced today.

The selection helps cap a steady climb through a four-year career which began with exclusive work on the sub-varsity pitcher as a freshman to his selection as Division III New England's  No. 1 pitcher. As a first-team selection, Purnell is eligible for ABCA All-America consideration when that team is released next Thursday, May 23. Purnell is also eligible to compete in the annual New England All-Star Game in June.

A total of 52 players were voted to the All-New England team: 15 on the first team, 18 on the second, and 19 on the third. Purnell was one of four pitchers named to the first team, which included seven players from the Little East Conference.

Previously named as the relief pitcher on the All-LEC first team, Purnell appeared in 29 of the team's 44 contests this year. His appearance total established season records for both appearances and relief appearances in a season. The 6-foot-2 inch, 200-pounder was 6-1 with a 1.63 ERA and nine saves (third-most in New England) and 51 strikeouts and only five walks in 38.2 innings. He shared the staff lead in wins and topped all pitchers in ERA and saves, the latter category one shy of the season record.

This season marked the first as the team's fulltime closer for Purnell, who did not have a save in 37 relief appearances throughout his sophomore and junior seasons. He was 1-0 with a 3.30 ERA in 30.0 innings over 20 relief appearances as a sophomore, and 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 34.0 innings over 19 appearances (17 in relief) as a junior.

This year,  Purnell gave up earned runs in only six appearances, surrendering more than one in a game only once. He struck out 17 batters before issuing his first walk in his ninth appearance and recorded saves in three consecutive games in mid-April in conference victories over Western Connecticut State University and in both ends of road sweep at Rhode Island College.

In his career, Purnell appeared in 68 games - fourth-most among pitchers in program-history - with an 8-4 record, nine saves, a 2.89 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 31 walks in 102 2/3 innings.

Purnell becomes the program's third NEIBA Pitcher-of-the-Year, following Ryan DiPietro in 2004 and 2005.

In 2013, Eastern won 30 games for the 29th time since 1973, finishing 30-13-1. Ranked fourth in New England, Eastern won two and lost two as the No. 2 seed in last week's Little East Conference tournament.



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